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Monticello South Square Room

South Square Room

Virtual tours of this room

Dimensions: 14' 10" × 15' 4"; ceiling 10' 0"

Order: Tuscan

Source: Palladio

Color: Currently, blue; recent investigations show multiple layers of paint, including true fresco with pigment mixed into wet plaster.

Purpose of Room: Originally part of Jefferson’s private suite and called the Book Room, much of his private library of books was shelved here until their sale to Congress in 1815. By 1817 it had become Martha Jefferson Randolph's sitting room, where she sewed, taught her children, met with visitors, and directed the slaves who worked as household servants.

Unusual features: Rumford fireplace altered by Jefferson to burn – in a more efficient manner – wood instead of coal.

Furnishings of note: Tables and chairs for reading, writing, and sewing, including a sewing table made in the Monticello Joiners’ Shop and attributed to John Hemmings. Bookboxes fill the alcove as they did when Martha used this room. Today, a portrait of Martha Jefferson Randolph, painted by James Westhall Ford, hangs in a place of honor. Silhouettes of family members and popular engravings hang on the walls.

Objects on Display in this Room

Related Links:
John Hemmings
Overview of Mulberry Row
Monticello Day Pass and House Tour
Available in Our Online Shop


ksmeltzer's picture
This room is one of my favorites at Monticello. As part of my job, I sometimes give Monticello house tours. This room is one that I always have trouble leaving with the groups--I want to share everything I know about it! For me this room represents a family hub in the house. The South Square Room or Family Sitting Room is a great place to think about Martha Jefferson Randolph and her roles at Monticello--mother, wife, daughter, teacher, and mistress of the plantation. I love thinking about the lives that intersected there. It had to be full of play, work, and learning.
Kristie Smeltzer


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